Bloody Valentine (Blue Bloods #5.5) by Melissa de la Cruz
Hardcover, 1st Edition
Published December 28th 2010 by Hyperion
Vampires have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even the strikingly beautiful and outrageously wealthy Blue Bloods, has total control. In Bloody Valentine, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz offers readers a new story about the love lives of their favorite vamps – the passion and heartache, the hope and devastation, the lust and longing. Combined with all the glitz, glamour, and mystery fans have come to expect, this is sure to be another huge hit in the Blue Bloods series.
Also, witness the bonding of Jack and Schuyler.
In this Blue Bloods novella, the pains and trials of love are explored in three short stories. In the first, Oliver is aching at Schuyler’s absence due to his status as her familiar. Presented with a not-so-well-accepted solution to his heartache, he seriously contemplates it along with the advice of a friend he meets in a bar. In the second, Allegra Van Alen feels trapped under the pressure of her immortal lives and the watchful eye of her mother Cordelia. While at Endicott Academy in Massachusetts and far away from her mother’s influence, she meets a fellow classmate named Bendix Chase and slowly falls in love. In the final story of the novella, Schuyler and Jack are busy planning their bonding ceremony before she leaves for Alexandria and he returns to New York to meet his fate. When one of their friends is kidnapped on his way to see their bonding, they must cooperate with another friend to get him back and save his life.
Oliver’s tale, “Just Another Night in Suck City,” gives us a peek into Oliver’s head for the first time in the entire series. His heartbreak was written beautifully and felt very real. I’ve always had a soft spot for him because of his dedication to Schuyler both as a Conduit and friend, and this piece only made me like him more. Freya, a character who will make her starring and debut appearance in de la Cruz’s adult title Witches of East End in summer 2011, makes a cameo appearance as a bartender at the bar Oliver and Schuyler frequented with fake IDs in hand. I’m surprised we haven’t heard of their visits to this bar before. It seems like it was made up on the spot. Anyways, I got the kind of vibe from this story that said, “the only way heartbreak can be cured is with magic. Otherwise, you’re stuck with it.” I know how I feel about that message, but others will have varying reactions from agreement to severe disagreement. The conflict of being de-familiarized and use as a source of blood in a bloodhouse was an interesting one for a character like Oliver. My favorite story of the three.
The second short story of the novel, “Always Something There to Remind Me,” follows Schuyler’s mother Allegra Van Alen, otherwise known as Gabrielle the Uncorrupted, when she went to school at Endicott Academy and met Schuyler’s father, whose name has changed more times than my home address. As a sixteen-year-old girl, I appreciated that she felt pressured by her identity as Gabrielle the angel, her brother/it’s complicated Charles’s everlasting love when she thinks she doesn’t deserve it, and her mother’s watchful eye. No teen, despite who they may have been in past lives and what they are, would take that kind of pressure well. Despite that, I still think she should have shown at least a little bit of acceptance of who she was instead of total rejection until the very end. Like I mentioned, she’s the great Gabrielle; she can’t afford to deny it as badly as she does. The insight into how Allegra and Bendix/Stephen/whatever fell in love was wonderful… until I read the last few paragraphs of the story. So she’s back in love with Charles/Michael? What? How does this help the reader see how Schuyler came to be? It only raises more questions! With just a few sentences, fifty pages were pretty much invalidated for me. Least favorite story in the entire Blue Bloods continuity.
Schuyler and Jack’s story, “Ring of Fire,” chronicles the events just after the end of Misguided Angel. Jack proposed and with Schuyler’s agreement, they must hurry to plan the ceremony and bring their friends in for it. The Venators loyal to the Countess, who is in turn still loyal to Lucifer, appear to ruin the fun and the fight scenes with them are grabbing. New limits are established on what both Jack and Schuyler can do and Bliss, who departed at the end of The Van Alen Legacy and has been absent from the books since, makes a cameo. Some will be happy about that and others definitely won’t be. The story moves well, like one of the plots that could have been part of a book instead of a short story, and with its heartwarming bonding ceremony at the end, it takes the honor of being my second-favorite story. If I didn’t love Oliver so much and everything hadn’t felt so convenient, it would have been my favorite.
The serious problems with continuity present in the series surface again and happen flagrantly. From what we have been told before, bonds were made in Heaven and stayed when they fell; now the explanation is that the bonds were made when the angels fell in order to punish them and take away their freedom to love. Christopher Anderson, the Conduit to Schuyler’s grandfather, had his memory of the Blue Bloods wiped and yet is present at Schuyler and Jack’s bonding ceremony; the name of Schuyler’s father sees yet another change as he is referred to as Bendix or Ben when it was formerly thought his name was Stephen (or, if you go with the spelling presented in the family tree of Masquerade, Steven). The bonding happens after Misguided Angel and yet Oliver is said to need to return to New York to solve the mystery of the disappearing Blue Blood teens, a case solved in Misguided Angel. Why does Oliver have to go back to investigate a case that has already been solved? I can go on because there are plenty more violations, but I choose not to.
Another problem with this series just came to my attention: how everything is just so convenient. Jack is unable to transform into Abbadon due to a cursed ring? No problem. He suddenly rediscovers his powers to summon creatures from the Underworld to do his bidding. Oliver is stuck loving and being heartbroken Schuyler forever and ever because he is her familiar? That’s okay too. He just gets de-familiarized, then re-familiarized just in time to save him from being bit by another Blue Blood, then gets a spell cast on him to ease his heartbreak. Oh, and Schuyler suddenly discovers how her mother’s sword can pretty much ruin an entire roof structure without a problem for her either. How many more times will that come in handy? No deus ex machina occurrences are just how many I like. One is tolerable, but the multiple occurrences in this 147 page book are far beyond tolerable.
This last paragraph has nothing to do with the book itself other than the way it was advertised, and that had nothing to do with the rating. When I received the book, I noticed that it said “a Blue Bloods book” on the cover. If I hadn’t already known Bloody Valentine was a novella, I would have been tripped up by that. Very few readers differentiate between a -series name here- novel and a -series name here- book; misguided advertising of a novella as a book leads to angry readers who complain. I remember seeing a version of the cover where it was labeled as “a Blue Bloods novella” and am left wondering what happened to that cover, which would have been more correct.
Honestly, there was no need for this book to be made. Two of the short stories could have been written into Misguided Angel without a problem and the third one, while it offers the reader insight into how Allegra fell in love with Bendix/Stephen/whatever his name is now, is rendered near-useless by the ending. This little piece adds to the confusion that comes with the Blue Bloods series instead of doing anything to lessen it. Despite that, these stories are undeniably interesting and quick reads. This is one better to borrow from a friend than to spend the money on buying it oneself.